Monday, March 14, 2011


Lately, I've realized that funny things happen to me all the time, but I forget them pretty quickly. It's not because I'm getting used to it. On the contrary, when something unusual or funny happens I always remark on it, but the sheer quantity of these happenings is so overwhelming that I just can't remember them all. As a result of this epiphany, I've tried extra hard to remember some funny things that have happened this past week. For example, I was at the HC as usual when this man comes up to pay the fee because his wife had given birth that morning. The receptionist goes through the usual spiel, but when she asks him for his wife's name he falters. He actually has to run back to his wife, who's resting in a "room", and ask her for her name. Now I'm not exactly sure why this occurs. Presumably they've been married for at least 9 months, but apparently this phenomenon is common in Cambodia. After observing this occurrence I tried to investigate by asking some patients. Usually they didn't understand why I was asking them these strange questions about names and marriage. Mostly, we just ended up talking about why I wasn't married yet.

Yesterday, I spent 10 hours trying to go about 300km to Phnom Penh for a meeting. I woke up at 5:30 and did the usual routine. Then I left my house at 7am to go meet the taxi. I sit in the taxi for 30min. Then the taxi drives around my town in circles for 30 min. Then we go to the next town over and we wait 20 min for some women to buy snacks. We keep going down the highway, but for some reason the police and the Cambodian Red Cross student groups are out in full force this Sunday. We get pulled over 2 or 3 times for the usual reasons that I will let you infer...Then we finally finish the 30k ride to the city and we end up driving around for another 30 min dropping people off, switiching cargo. At one point I could literally have just gotten out of the car and walked to the bus station and I would have made it faster.

Then I got to the bus station after 2.5 hrs in the taxi and I get on a very Khmer bus. Usually I take Sorya but I got ambushed and ended up on another bus line. The problem with this is that the less foriegners on a bus the more stops the bus makes, at least this is the correlation I drew from my observations. We must have stopped a total of 50 times between SR and PP. For example, the lady next to me got up about 5 min into the ride, after we left 30 min late, and made the bus stop to pick up two giant bags of rice. Every 20 min someone would want to get off and new people would get on. By the end of the ride we had about 10 more people than seats. Children had to sit on laps. I'm not talkin' bout 5 year olds either. But somehow we still made it in 6.5 hrs. Not sure how that happened.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh

This past week was pretty epic. I went down to Kampong Cham for the weekend and visited my first host family. I think I ate twice the number of meals I normally eat and had a fruit shake for every meal. The reason for all this is because I went with Saeed, who was my neighbor during training. His host fam and mine are related so he's sort of like my cousin. After I eat at my house I end up at Saeed's house eating a second meal. It's actually a pretty good deal. I also had a ton of free time so we went running every morning and played bball every afternoon. Playing 1 vs. 4 kids is actually really fun because even though they can barely make a basket they force you to be quick on your feet. Little kids can turn on a dime though they have some trouble anticipating your moves.Yea, the highlight of my trip was hustling little kids. I'm not ashamed though maybe I should be.

After Kampong Cham I headed to Phnom Penh for IST (in-service training). Which was basically a series of meetings, informative and boring. Though really, no one can make these meetings interesting all the time so there's no one to blame. We did get to have two days of it in a super nice hotel. Like 5 star hotel...maybe. My standards for hotels have changed drastically since I moved here. We had a free 22 dollar buffet both days and free snacks and tea/coffee during breaks. It was awesome for us. Unfortunately, the second day was a conference with Cambodian counterparts. Some of the people at that meeting had never left their provinces and had never had Western food before. It really made me realize how ridiculous the hotel was. Even though we were in their country, the Cambodians were the ones that probably felt the most uncomfortable. Cambodians would be the ones asked to leave if they acted the way Cambodians normally act. The presence of hotels like that are preposterous.